Monday, December 17, 2012

Yuzuiri Kurobekkou Ame (brown sugar yuzu candies)

Anyone who read last Friday's post knows that I'm all for yuzu. This candy was not, however, a jam-inspired frenzy purchase (though wouldn't it be cool if jam could inspire a frenzy? I imagine there'd be bits of toast, scones, and spoons everywhere). I've actually had this pack of hard candies tucked away in my tin full of snacks to be eaten or reviewed for quite some time. It was in the "bargain" shelves at Daiso Japan for a mere $1 instead of the usual $1.50. That means it was probably at or near its expiration date two months ago, but, hey, it's hard candy. It's not like hard candy can really go bad, right?

Well, it can't go bad, but not so pleasant things can happen. Even though this has individually wrapped and sealed candies in a sealed bag, it still seemed to get that gummy, sticky quality that you often see develop when you have a lollipop or cough drop around long enough for moisture to start to do its thing on the outer portions of it. That doesn't make it inedible, but, in the case of this candy, it made it dangerously sticky.

If you've ever wondered why lollipops are on sticks, eating a lozenge-style candy which is on the large size will make it perfectly clear. Between the slightly gooey exterior and the large size disk, I was at risk of choking to death on this or at least having it lodged in the roof of my mouth until it naturally melted away. Three times while trying to suck on this, I got it jammed between the sides of my top teeth and had to dislodge it with my finger. I have a small mouth, grant you, but this seemed like it really should be sold on a stick. After the third time, I decided to hold it in my fingers and lick it like a lollipop until it was whittled down to size. I figured that three times of getting it jammed in my mouth was more than enough snack-related death temptation.

Yuzu peel or worms? You decide.

I'm certain the reason these are so large is that they have small bits of yuzu (Japanese citron) peel embedded in the candy. If they were a more normal size for a lozenge-style candy, there would probably be bits of peel sticking out like tiny tentacles trapped in amber. The illustration on the back of the package doesn't seem to be inspiring confidence in what is embedded inside, but I'm sure they couldn't do much with the limited color palette.

My slightly melted candy. I have no one to blame but myself, really. 

My hope with most of my reviews is that I will have the same sort of experience that Roger Ebert says he wants when he sees movies. He wants to see something which is good that he hasn't seen before a million times. I want to taste something which is good that I haven't tasted before a million times. To that end, this candy is a hit. The combination of brown sugar and yuzu is a good one. This is managed by not overdoing the molasses part of the brown sugar or underplaying the citron too much. There is just enough of both to add the right play of citrus bite with brown sugar sweetness. This is a unique and tasty hard candy that is well worth the 29 calories and risk of tooth decay. There's an odd textural difference when you reach the peel in the center, but it's not necessarily unpleasant. It's just not quite what it's like to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootisie pop.

What I can't say for sure is whether or not it is worth the risk of choking if you buy these on the slightly older side or don't eat it until it has sat around and gotten a bit soft and sticky around the edges. Most people probably have bigger mouths than me and won't suffer my issues, but I'm knocking this down from a "very happy" to a "happy" based on the logistical issues I had eating it. I'd like to buy it again, but I'd either have to get sticky fingers holding it and licking it until it was smaller or I'd have to take my life in my mouth along with the candy.

As a little reminder to readers who may have missed it, or to those who haven't gotten around to entering, I'm offering a box of the current Tokyo regional KitKats (rum raisin) as a contest prize. You can read about it and enter here. The contest ends on Christmas day 2012, so enter early, but only once, please. 

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